January, February and March are a bit of a lull in education.  That is, unless you are a presenter.  Then those three months are known as “pack your bags – it’s on!”.  It’s conference season.  And while it’s crazy, I love it because I often learn more at a conference than I teach.

While presenting to teachers, administrators and activists for arts integration, I’m often asked about the mechanics for getting a program started.  I think I frustrate a lot of people, because I tell them that while the mechanics are critical, the first thing they need to do is figure out WHY.

Why do WE want to use arts integration?  Why is arts integration a good fit for THIS school?  Why do I want to lead this initiative?  WHY??

We can learn a lot from Sesame Street.  Big Bird asks WHY all the time and so should we.  We need to practice being inquisitive so that we can develop that quality in our students.

For me and for our school, the answer to the “why” is simple: because good teaching is still good teaching.

Arts integration is all about using good teaching strategies: collaboration, engagement, critical thinking, multiple intelligences, spiral learning, using prior knowledge, developing relationships, creating meaning.

They aren’t things we measure explicitly on a test.  And yet they are.

We measure reading, writing and math skills.  All of which require these strategies.  All of which require having practice in answering the WHY.  All of which test the structure and imply the structural integrity.

Be a Big Bird today – ask your questions and ponder the answers.  After all, that’s good teaching too.